Edtech Gets Boost in COVID-19 Stimulus Package
The Senate & House passed a historic $2 trillion dollar package (just needs the president’s signature) that has a major focus on improving both working and learning from home environments. The sudden closures of workplaces and schools across the nation have uprooted all of our lives, and nobody is feeling it more than educators who are working to provide equitable opportunities for every student in their district. This stimulus bill has a large focus on bolstering districts, especially when it comes to virtual learning opportunities.
Specific education funding includes a total of $30.75 billion. The National Conference of State Legislatures has provided a complete breakdown of funding here. The specific funding distributions are as follows:
Elementary and Secondary Education: $13.5 billion. Funds to LEAS can be used for coronavirus-response activities, such as planning for and coordinating during long-term school closures; purchasing educational technology to support online learning for all students served by the local educational agency
Governors: Each state will receive a share of $3 billion for governors to allocate at their discretion for emergency support grants to local educational agencies and institutions of higher education that have been most significantly impacted by the coronavirus
Higher Education: $14.25 billion for emergency relief for Institutions of Higher Education to respond to the coronavirus. At least 50% of institutional funds must provide emergency financial aid grants to students that can cover eligible expenses under a student’s cost of attendance, such as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care and child care. Remaining institutional funds may be used to defray expenses for IHEs, such as lost revenue and technology costs associated with a transition to distance education.
Not only does the bill cover education technology, but technology in general, which could also be helpful to districts during this time. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) holds two programs that help to improve broadband access. Two specific programs are receiving funding under this stimulus package. They include $25 million to the USDA’s Rural Development Grant Program for Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program, as well as $100 million to the USDA’s ReConnect program to help ensure rural Americans have access to broadband.
To understand just how vast this investment is, Title IV-A of the Every Student Succeeds Act which specifically allows districts to use dollars on technology is currently allocated at $1.21B. (Advocates had to fight long and hard for even this amount.)
The Stimulus bill also builds in flexibility for LEAs to request waivers for specific provisions under Title IV-A. This includes the ability to waive the requirement that 1: a needs assessment be conducted for any amount received over $30,000 (Section 4106(D)) and 2: waives the cap of the use of 15% on technology for any LEA receiving $30,000 or more.. (Section 4109(b))
K20Connect will continue to monitor this legislation and implementation as an agreement is made and dollars start being sent to the states for distribution. In the meantime if there is anyway we can help you understand any pieces of the legislation, please feel free to reach out to Susan Gentz at firstname.lastname@example.org
Additionally Dr. Kecia Ray, President of K20Connect authored the “Just in Time Playbook for Remote Learning”. Check it out here as you’re looking for effective
strategies to implement these dollars well for remote learning in your district. We’re always here to be a resource for you.
Kecia Ray: email@example.com
Susan Gentz: firstname.lastname@example.org